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STAGNANT WATERS OF CANALS.
vegetating little aquatic plants, of a very unsightly appearance. Dipping my hand into the water, I raised from it a handful of these minute vegetables, and found on examination every little plant, like all other productions of nature, to be perfectly formed, having leaflets that floated with the upper surfaces exposed to the sunshine, and a stem, terminated by small diverging fibrous roots.
PASSAGE IN A CANAL-BOAT.
After visiting a few other public buildings, and passing a short time in rambling over this quiet city, we embarked in a canal-boat for Leyden. The canal-boats for passengers, used in Holland, resemble those employed for the same purpose in the United States in external construction; but there are here no apartments with berths nicely fitted up for sleeping, and none of the properly arranged cooking apparatus to furnish viands for the table. Having had occasion to travel whilst in Holland during the night, the luxury of a good bed was not to be procured on board of any one of the canal-boats. You can engage the little apartment or cabin at one end of the boat, and have room to exercise your ingenuity in making a couch of benches, cushions, portmanteaux, cloaks, and other compounds of hard and soft materials. There are inns at short intervals along the canal side, at the doors of which the passengers usually land, to procure a cup of coffee or other refreshments. Several of the female passengers regaled themselves, when they stopped, with small glasses of gin. The expense of a passage in the cabin, which is a very small apartment, is between two and three cents per mile, without board. Most of the canal-boats which we passed have one horse attached to them, and proceed at the rate of about three miles an hour. The passage-boats are
PREVALENT HABIT OF SMOKING TOBACCO.
drawn by two horses at the rate of four or five miles an hour.
A chafing dish or pot is constantly supplied with peat, which is always kept burning, like the Vestal fire, for the purpose of lighting the tobacco pipes of the indefatigable Dutch smokers. The fumes, ascending from their nu merous pipes, produce a perpetual haze in the confined atmosphere of the cabins of the canal boats. The weed used by the laboring classes of Dutchmen for the supply of their pipes, has so little of the aroma of tobacco, that I have often fancied they were puffing out from their distended cheeks the imprisoned fumes of burning straw.— The traveller, who may have an antipathy to tobacco smoke, is excessively annoyed by the prevailing propensity of the Hollanders for smoking.
Along the borders of the canals are numerous country seats, each with its trim garden and summer-house. These little octagon brick summer-houses seemingly wade off into the waters of the canal, as if imbued with the aquatic propensities of their masters. The inmates are thus enabled to enjoy the pleasures of the land and water, so necessary to a Dutchman's happiness, for they here get over a canal when in the humor to participate in the joys of rural felicity; and seated above their favorite element they can composedly relish the prospect of trees and level meadows. The industrious beavers thus instinctively feel restless in their moments of relaxation and enjoyment, unless they can recline as voluptuaries with their tails in the water, in which they have paddled all their lifetime.
The erection of these summer-houses in the water may perhaps have originated in economy, here charac eristic; for by this means the same roof which affords a shelter for 19
DUTCH COUNTRY RESIDENCES.
landing from the barges, used instead of coaches, may also cover the upper apartment used for the banqueting table. When the canal boat passes within a few feet of the large open windows of these summer-houses, the passengers can distinctly view the occupants sociably seated at the table, and even scan the fare spread upon it. The guests themselves do not shrink from the close inspection, but look out at the passengers, and nod in token of recognition to those whom they perchance may know. The views of the shady walks and beautiful flower gardens, inclosed by smoothly trimmed green hedges arranged with studied art in plain sight from the canal boat, serve to amuse the passenger whilst pursuing slowly his monotonous course.— The gay colors of the flowers, the smoothly mown lawns, resembling a carpet of green velvet, and the cool shade formed by fine avenues of trees, sometimes almost induce a wish to land.
A similar taste for country seats prevailed in the vicinity of some of the large American cities, during the period when the general engagements of the merchants in foreign commerce left them leisure to retreat into the country during the absence of their vessels, and to expend in costly improvements the anticipated profits of their voyages.— The return of peace and of general competition at present leaves the merchant no respite from an almost uninterrupted attention to business, and country houses have fallen into disrepute.
Over the doors and windows of the summer houses, or pavilions, as they may more properly be termed, are va rious short mottos, painted in large letters resembling those upon tavern sign boards. Each proprietor, of course, is at liberty to select such a motto as may happen to hit his fancy. It afforded me much amusement in passing them to hear a translation of them from the Dutch into the French by one of our fellow-passengers, who under
AND MOTTOS ON SUMMER HOUSES.
stood both languages. The proprietor of one estate signifies by his motto, inscribed in letters so broad that those who run or sail at a distance may read, that he is a "lover of the summer." Another professes himself to be an admirer of the pleasures of retirement, and a third admires rural life. On the walls of one summer house it was blazoned that the proprietor loved the church. Feeling suspicious that this profession of attachment could not be altogether disinterested, I inquired of the boatman the business or profession of the owner of the estate, and was told that he was a priest, after which I ceased to wonder at his public professions of love for the loaves and fishes.
These gardens and country seats ornament one side of the canal. If you turn your eyes to the opposite side, your view is in some places nearly as unbounded as that afforded by the level expanse of the broad ocean. The vast surface of green meadows extends unbroken by hills or undulations, like immense marshes, which they in truth originally were. This unbroken level of endless flat country wearies the eye, accustomed to view the variety of hill and vale, of cliff and mountain. In place of this varied scenery there is here visible only a sea of green herbage, dotted with a few farm houses, and with black cattle, which are discernible sometimes at the distance of several miles, like specks on the verge of the landscape, where the smooth lines of earth and sky seem to meet. For a con
siderable distance on some of the canals, no farm house or orchard is passed, and notwithstanding the greenness of the earth's surface, the general aspect of the country is
bleak and cheerless.
The fields of the different farmers are divided by ditches filled with water, instead of by hedges or fences. These ditches are rendered passable by little drawbridges placed at convenient distances. When the farmer wishes to retire to his own possessions, and to shut out the world, he
LANDSCAPE VIEWS IN HOLLAND.
raises his little drawbridge, and fastens it in a vertical position by the embrace of an iron chain, secured by a lock to a post. Each farm may thus be made an island, and the adjacent neighbors pay and receive visits by means of their boats. Some of the operations connected with farming are also carried on by the aid of boats, as I have observed milk maids rowing away lustily in their skiffs containing their white milk pails, on their way to the pastures where the cows were feeding. The milking is performed either much earlier or oftener than is practised in the United States, as we saw the women returning with their frothing pails of milk early in the afternoon. The favorite color of the cows is black, mottled with white spots. Even the very swains take to their boats on the approach of twilight to visit their mistresses, and the strokes of their oars dashing aside the waters are thus probably the harbingers for which the pensive Dutch lasses watch.— The most delightful associations of early life thus seem to strengthen the attachment to aquatic excursions, and to rowing boats.* Boats serve also in the place of wagons. Instead of making a road to his door, the farmer often sets to work to dig out a broad ditch or canal to communicate with one of the principal canals of the neighborhood. The few wagons which are employed are provided with no harness to prevent them from pressing forward upon the horses, as there are no hills to be descended. If any little mound by its declivity happen to accelerate the motion of the wagon, the driver, seated on the front part of the vehicle, puts one foot on the rump of each horse, and thus grotesquely is seen bracing back with all his strength, and
*In early days, when the first settlers on the marshes were nearly all skippers or boatmen, it is stated that the familiar salutation of, how do you do, to-day,- -was literally in Dutch expressed by "How do you row to-day."